22 days ago

Rein in poultry-feed price hike

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The country's poultry industry is passing through a hard time. Following the pandemic, it is now the Russaia-Ukraine war that is causing disruption to supply chain, made worse by high price of imported poultry feed. To be precise, it is the exorbitant price of feed, either imported or locally produced from imported inputs that have already taken too heavy a toll on the sector threatening its very survival. The fallout is deeply felt in the abnormal price spiral of poultry products - broiler chickens and eggs -- all over the country.

What has transpired from reports in the past couple of months is that poultry owners are far from running their business even at break-even. A large number of small and medium farms have already quit business as they were unable to remain afloat amid unrelenting losses. According to the Bangladesh Poultry Association (BPA), the number of poultry farms in the country fell to 60,000 in the past two years from 160,000 in 2009. The association largely blames the rise in feed and chick prices for closure of the farms. It is the marginal farmers who hold 90 per cent of the chicken and egg industry while the corporate farms control the rest, said BPS president at a press conference late last month. According to observers, the current hike in the prices has come rather too late for most of the poultry farmers as many of them are reportedly not in business. The price of broiler chicken in Dhaka has shot up by nearly Tk 90 to Tk 230 per kilogram in less than a month.  Egg prices have also increased by Tk 20 to 140 a dozen in this period. In 2022, wholesale price of a kilogram of broiler chicken ranged between Tk 118 and Tk 148 averaging at Tk 129, while the production cost stood at Tk 144.99. Production cost of a kg of broiler chicken now ranges between Tk 149 and Tk 152. So selling broiler chicken is way behind the break-even point. 

Coming to poultry feed, it appears that the price hike is to the tune of around 70 per cent. Reports quoting poultry insiders say a 50 kg sack of feed used to cost Tk 2,400-2,500 in mid-2021. It went up to Tk 2,700-2,800 midway through last year before leaping to Tk 3,380-3,420 later in December. It was around Tk 3,550 until February; the latest price is Tk 3,650 per sack. There is also a fall in the operation of local feed mills.  Of the 200 registered feed mills in the country, only 60-70 are reportedly in business due to demand slump. Clear enough, it is the feed price that is instrumental to turning things this bad.

There is definitely a need for state intervention to rescue the poultry industry. According to observers and stakeholders, this has to be right now. Providing subsidy or duty waiver on feed import and raw materials for local feed mills could be one of the measures. The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock should hold talks with the poultry people in devising ways for riding out the crisis.

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